THINKING ANGLICANS

Wycliffe Hall: Church Times report

The Church Times has a report by Bill Bowder Wycliffe Hall criticised by resigning governor.

CLARE MACINNES, a member of the Council of Wycliffe Hall, the increasingly troubled Evangelical theological college in Oxford (News, Letters, 28 September), wrote to its chairman on Monday to resign and explain her reasons.

She said on Tuesday that she had also written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the college’s Visitor, and to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. “My responsibility is to tell my story,” she said. “I am deeply saddened by this, and it gave me no pleasure to write this letter.”

The chairman of the Council of Wycliffe Hall, the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, had replied immediately, “which I appreciated”, but she declined to give any details of his reply…

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Cheryl Va. Clough
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Who is in charge of Wycliffe? This article notes “Dissension in the council was often not minuted, she said. When the council terminated the employment of three staff members, Dr Elaine Storkey, the Revd Dr Andrew Goddard, and the Revd Lis Godard (News, 28 September), staff were told that the decision was unanimous, although Mrs MacInnes, who was absent from the meeting, had sent a letter to record her opposition to the move” and earlier “At one council meeting, a member had told her not to take notes. “I was again intimidated by this.” In Australia there is a concept… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

The issue of the governing body should not escape comment. So many organisations seem to believe that a group of (highly qualified) individuals who see less than a hundredth of what residents see should have many times more decision making power than said residents. This in many cases will not add up. Is the governing body therefore at fault for supporting Richard Turnbull? No – in my view the present nature/tendencies of the British media is at fault. Who can blame any organisation for seeking damage limitation and maintaining the status quo when they know how the jackals will tear… Read more »

Matthew B
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Matthew B

Christopher Snell: Blaming the media for the troubled management of Wycliffe is akin to shooting the messenger for the deeds of the general. This latest wave of resignations has recieved suprisingly limited attention from the mainstream press, and the reporting in the Church Times, Guardian, and Religious Intelligence seems benign to say the least. If you have particular objections to these reports and the journalists who wrote them you should say so, rather than slandering them as ‘jackals’. On these threads one member of Wycliffe has already had to back down after issuing a libellous claim against Stephen Bates that… Read more »

Matthew Firth
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Matthew Firth

Cheryl – The comparison that you make between the situation at Wycliffe and planes being flown into the World Trade Centre is, quite simply, bonkers.

Matthew B
Guest
Matthew B

Sarah has an excellent post on this saga over on the Fulcrum thread, which is worth reading. Clare MacInnes raises several new points in addition to those revealed by the Maughan/Wenham/John disclosures, which relate to the operation of the Council, rather than simply the behaviour of Principal Turnbull. i. Turnbull’s appointment was made without a proper appraisal. Concerns about the process were dismissed. “This was a serious oversight, since it raised questions about the integrity of the process, including issues of charity and employment law and good practice.” ii. The council raised Turnbull’s salary from that advertised to that of… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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These are they who support the sackings etc and appear on the Wycliffe website as members of the Council. What is known of these worthies? It appears that Clare MacInnes resigned before or during July this year – either that or this page lies! Hall Council The governing body of Wycliffe Hall is the Hall Council, which is comprised of both clergy and laypersons, who are responsible for overall policy. Its membership includes four holding Trustees who are also Trustees of Wycliffe’s sister college, Ridley Hall, Cambridge. As at July 2007, the Hall Council members are: Mr Anthony Archer Ms… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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“Is the governing body therefore at fault for supporting Richard Turnbull? No – in my view the present nature/tendencies of the British media is at fault. Who can blame any organisation for seeking damage limitation and maintaining the status quo when they know how the jackals will tear into them if they do not?”

Yeah! blame it on the media.

It’s their fault that dirty linen cannot be kept in the family any longer.

Robert Opala
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Robert Opala

This situation needs further clarification. It can’t be happening again. In our best interest, it seems that we have to work more hardly to change the situation and all will be fine.
Robert Opala

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“If the Principal or Council wished to close this affair, they could quite easily issue a statement either rebutting the claims, or reassuring the public that measures were being taken to investigate them, but they have not yet chosen to do this. If ‘damage limitation’ involves sweeping under the carpet matters of serious concern involving due process and the lawful treatment of staff, then the Council and Principal should expect to face criticism, and rightly so.” We can see from the comments that at least the defenders of this new order are less than democrates. This affair seems to be… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Matthew Firth wrote: “Cheryl – The comparison that you make between the situation at Wycliffe and planes being flown into the World Trade Centre is, quite simply, bonkers.”

From where you are (inside) this may not be immediately obvious – that is an ancient lesson – but for churched and un-churched outside your institution of Zelots, there are no such difficulties (institutional, ideological)…

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

No it will not be “fine”.

This will have repercussions for decades.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Think USA’s standing in the World after the war on Iraq.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Matthew F wrote “Cheryl – The comparison that you make between the situation at Wycliffe and planes being flown into the World Trade Centre is, quite simply, bonkers.” So at what point were the Muslims meant to draw the line between aggressive theology and what was manifest in this world? One week before the World Trade Centre – who believes that would have made a difference? (That is a bonkers statement!) How about when aggression became a “legitimate” form of Islam? That would have nipped the problem in the bud. But who are those who aid and abet aggression to… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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The Revd Paul Perkin has a history of not wanting meetings recorded accurately:
http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/28820

He was also the sponsor of this PMM at England’s February General Synod
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002166.html

Peter Owen
Admin

In response to the comment above from Martin Reynolds about the list of trustees, I looked at this list on the Wycliffe website earlier this week and Mrs McInnes was included then. It looks as if whoever edited the list to remove her name forgot to change the date at the top from July to October.

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I wonder if I might solicit a discussion about what might be driving the Hall Council: why they were so desperate to secure their candidate that they were prepared to pay him at the level of Cathedral Dean, and why they have backed him to the hilt when fast losing better women and men. Bishop JJ’s motives are anyone’s guess. One can only imagine he is appalled at the thought of losing face; though supporting RT is injuring his reputation far more than admitting his mistake would have done. But other Council members present a more interesting picture. We have… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I forgot to mention that one of the Holding Trustees, Simon McGuire, is currently a student at Wycliffe: but bizarrely there doesn’t seem to be a staff representative on the Council. And where is the input from/accountability to the University? None of these individuals have any formal relationship to the University.

Jeff
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Jeff

May be the situation at Wycliffe is another example of people, in this the council and leadership of the college, being corrupted by power and driven by fear?

Jeff

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

The different so-called parties in the C of E will vary in size as history progresses, and accordingly at certain times certain colleges which lie on the cusp will become especial battle grounds of ideology. For example: Oak Hill is not a battleground because it is clearly in one camp. Likewise Ridley has a long liberal evangelical tradition. Wycliffe, however, is one classic candidate to become a battleground between Conservative and Open Fulcrum Evangelicals. It has to be said, by the by, that some of this ideology stuff is very silly. Any honest person is going to come to a… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

The different so-called parties in the C of E will vary in size as history progresses, and accordingly at certain times certain colleges which lie on the cusp will become especial battle grounds of ideology. For example: Oak Hill is not a battleground because it is clearly in one camp. Likewise Ridley has a long liberal evangelical tradition. Wycliffe, however, is one classic candidate to become a battleground between Conservative and Open Fulcrum Evangelicals. It has to be said, by the by, that some of this ideology stuff is very silly. Any honest person is going to come to a… Read more »

Matthew B
Guest
Matthew B

Sarah: Thanks for posting – this really is most interesting. There seems on the Council a nucleus of people who are either leading members of Reform or are extremely sympathetic to its agenda, but the political context is no doubt more complicated than that. The link between Reform, or at least conservative evangelicalism and the public school sector is often overlooked. Friends from top public schools provide a picture in which their school Christian Unions behave in a much more hardline way than those I’ve ever experienced in the state sector (there is historical precedent for this, if we consider… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Jeff asked “May be the situation at Wycliffe is another example of people, in this the council and leadership of the college, being corrupted by power and driven by fear?” One of my earlier concerns is that this was possible. The leadership at Wycliffe were quick to reassure us that all was well and that the graduates are held in high regard. That then raises another concern, how do they hope to keep such a high standards when they have lost so many staff so quickly, how are they doing the handovers to ensure the high standard is maintained? Of… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“The leadership at Wycliffe were quick to reassure us that all was well…”

This is always a very bad sign. The next step is saying “Let’s not dwelve on the past” – and then they invariably continue as before.

“… and that the graduates are held in high regard.”

Blaming the bystander or the powerless in any form (e.g. faint praise ;=) or claiming their support, is the mark of bullies, and a clear indication that oppression is at hand.

Gillian Argyle
Guest

Sarah’s comments about the VPS camps effect on the present situation at Wycliffe is a very interesting. Yes, with Godly motives those ‘officers’ (using a handbook called ‘camp efficiency’) were heavily into control; ‘campers’ were love-bombed into conversion, then your profession (vicar or public school teacher if a man, vicar’s wife or RS/RE teacher at girls’ public school if woman) was designated. Your marriage was to be to another in the circle. Yes, masses of vicars, public school teachers, vicars’ wives were produced. There were also casualties. Great men (eg Lord Butler) left the scene after graduation, despite the best… Read more »

f
Guest
f

David Way is a staff member at thew Ministry Division.All Colleges have a Min Div person on teir governing body. I understand he does not attend many Council meetings – but if that is incorrect, someone can easily correct it.

Who are the General Synod reps on the Council?

philbody
Guest
philbody

What has happened to the New Testament replacement for David Wenham? The lecturer who had been appointed seems to be back in his old job, and with no sign of moving. Have the Council or Principal made any statement about this?

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Anthony Archer, Paul Perkin and of course Bishop James Jones sit on GS. So GS is pretty well represented. Thank you Matthew B. for sounding a salutory note of caution about linking Reform too casually with the Wycliffe situation, for shedding light on the Global South connection, and for your elaboration on the ‘character’ of public school conservatism which I wanted to take up. I too find it tempting to link upper-middle class evangelicalism with the kind of controlling leadership we’ve seen modelled in conservative churches/ institutions lately (although Turnbull himself is a grammar school boy). And I can’t help… Read more »

James
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James

philbody, was it going to be Andy Angel from SEITE? According to the July newsletter from SEITE he was not due to take up his Wycliffe post until December.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Sarah I’m not sure that “f” was asking which of the Council were on General Synod, but rather which were appointed by General Synod. In fact it would be interesting to know the various bodies entitled to nominate people to the Council and which members they each put up. I have to say that in my view there is more likely to be early action on the part of Oxford University that by the Church, partly because while there is the possibility of legal action it would simply be imprudent of anyone to mount an investigation into the material facts,… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Matthew B- I think you misunderstood my point. I did not say that the Open Evangelicals were coming to liberal/pluralist conclusions. I said that there is a danger that any given group, whether Open Evangelical, liberal/pluralist or whatever, will come to onely one kind/stamp of comclusion, whatever the matter that is being discussed. Which is not what honest people do. Honest people treat each question on its own merits, and (having weighed the evidence) may potentially come to a variety of types of conclusion. Hi Sarah- If you knew even the little about muscular Christianity that I know, you… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

A further comment to Sarah and Gillian: I think it is correct to see VPS as a massive stakeholder here. But regarding the 60s and the 70s things are not that way now. Both genders have been on equal footing certainly in Christmas and New Year conferences for over 20 years. Anyway, let’s balance the postives with the negatives: most of the most effective pastor-teacher-evangelists in the C of E from around the 1950s onwards were connected with VPS. Surely we would not have sacrificed them for the sake of a bit more political correctness? In terms of personal warmth… Read more »

Matthew B
Guest
Matthew B

Hello Christopher, Thanks for the clarification. I think my interpretation was probably the most natural reading of the way you strung the two sentences together (question followed by statement; parallel structure), but I am very happy to take you at your word if you do not believe that open evangelicals are liberal/pluralist. I’m not sure, however, where your point about ideology is leading. No-one here is claiming that theological orientation involves ticking a set of boxes, but this doesn’t mean that the distinctions are devoid of meaning. In the same way that a person grounded in Kantian ethics will approach… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Matthew- The point of what I said was that if people exhibit the same type of conclusion on every single issue, then all one has to do is ask them whether or not their overall position corresponds (coincidentally) to their preferences and wishes. Chances are it will do exactly that. In which case the preferences and wishes (as opposed to beliefs and conclusions arrived at by evidence) are at the root of the whole thing. Which means that their position lacks integrity. There is a lot of misinformation about VPS camps: (1) A high proportion of the cleaning/sweeping/mopping and… Read more »